The United States’ Most Significant Climate Policies of 2023

Michigan’s Healthy Climate Plan

According to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), the average annual temperature in Michigan rose three degrees between 1900 and 2023. Last year, the final version of the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan (MI Health Climate Plan) was released by EGLE. This is a long-term climate change adaptation and decarbonization agenda and one of the most ambitious state-level plans to address climate change in the entire country. Its robust goal to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050 sets a precedent for other states trying to bring about effective climate legislation. In November, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed several bills from the plan into law.

Initially proposed as a commitment by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in the fall of 2020, the MI Healthy Climate Plan has roots in local, county, and state government governments, nonprofits, and businesses. When the plan was first developed, input was obtained from numerous local elected officials, academics, and business leaders in areas ranging from agriculture to land conservation to environmental justice. Compared to the federal government’s Inflation Reduction Act goal to achieve a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, the MI Climate Action Plan aims to reduce state greenhouse gas emissions by 52% in 2030 compared to 2005. The plan, as well as the new laws that were passed, has established Michigan as a national leader in the shift toward decarbonization.

The bills signed into law include requiring energy companies to attain a 100% clean energy standard by 2040, changing state waste reduction standards, and prioritizing environmental justice in the state legislature. Multiple vendors had stakes in the passing of these new bills. Energy companies such as Consumers Energy provide natural gas and electricity for up to 6.6 million Michigan residents, and DTE Energy serves up to 3.3 million of Michigan’s residents out of a total of 10 million residents statewide. In partnership with local and state governments, these companies worked to set goals through the MI Climate Action Plan during its initial development stages. Some environmental groups, such as Evergreen Action, support the new policies. However, there is opposition from Republican congressmen and the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, which believes that energy companies will be able to profit more than ever while providing unsafe utilities with these laws.

Although these bills are controversial, there is much more support behind the MI Climate Action Plan in the legislature and amongst environmental groups in Michigan. The Michigan Environmental Council is interested in state policy development outlined by the plan, such as those policies focused on electric vehicles. The Michigan Environmental Justice Council supported the final released version of the MI Climate Action Plan and continues to urge the governor and elected officials to adhere to the foundations of environmental policies in the state initially established by this plan.

As the bills were signed into law recently, the results of their passage remain uncertain, but surely time will tell. Michigan is a battleground for effective climate action, and its new policies will bring controversy either way. However, there is still much work to be done. The implementation of these policies will hopefully bring more environmentally friendly laws into fruition, and the hope in Michigan that this state will continue to set the standard for years to come.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard US Country Manager Abby Carlson.


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